5 things to do in Thirsk in spring

PUBLISHED: 00:00 04 May 2017

Thirsk Market  Place

Thirsk Market Place

Joan Russell Photography, Joan Russell Photography

What to do and where to go in the North Yorkshire town this spring

1. Ahead of the field

They have been racing horses in Thirsk for more than 400 years, with the first meeting at the current course in 1855. Today, few racecourses in the world can boast the picturesque beauty of Thirsk with its manicured lawns and well-kept gardens. There are 17 fixtures a year, from April to September, with three flat racing meetings this month – there are daytime races on May 6th and 20th and an evening card on May 13th. There’s also races on June 5th and 20th. thirskracecourse.net

2. Be reserved

There are few more glorious places at this time of year than the Garbutt Wood Nature Reserve. In early May a carpet of bluebells is in bloom and the air is full of birdsong. Garbutt Wood was established as a nature reserve in 1966 and features a range of landscapes. A heather moor suits on top of a sandstone cliff and the reserve runs down to the shores of Lake Gormire. The woodland is filled with birch, oak and holly and there is a range of footpaths around the reserve, some of them quite steep and challenging. ywt.org.uk/reserves/garbutt-wood-nature-reserve

3. Famous names

This in an historic market town and there are plenty of places to soak up that history and to learn about Thirsk’s past. The town museum is in the former home of one of Thirsk’s most famous sons, Thomas Lord who founded Lord’s cricket ground. The free museum houses a wonderful collection of cricketing memorabilia, farming equipment and assorted eclectic artefacts including the bones of a Saxon giant. Just over the road is The World of James Herriot, an award-winning visitor attraction which charts the life, work and legacy of the world’s most famous vet. You’ll find items from his career alongside exhibits about life in the 1940s and countryside skills as well as props from All Creatures Great and Small. thirskmuseum.org, worldofjamesherriot.com

4. The silver screen

The recent revival of all things vintage must have caused a few eyebrows to be raised in Thirsk where they’ve been comfortably ahead of the curve. Much of the old town remains and there are remarkably few hideous 20th century buildings, but that’s not to say the town is a living museum. The atmospheric, 200-seat Ritz sums up this melding of traditional and modern perfectly – it’s one of the oldest continuously run cinemas in the country and is now run by a dedicated team of passionate volunteers and converted to digital technology to mark its centenary.

5. Retail details

Thirsk developed as a market town, a place where people from the surrounding villages could gather to trade goods, services and gossip. The cobbled market square is still at the heart of the town and the range of independent shops, boutiques and galleries around the town today suggests that priorities haven’t changed so much over the centuries. There’s a healthy selection of cafes, restaurants and pubs too, so there’s not much chance you’ll go hungry here.

Need to know

Where it is: Thirsk is well connected, via the A1 and A19 north-south, and the A61 and A170 west-east. Thirsk railway station is to the west of the town centre and there are connecting buses.

Where to park: Parking in Market Place, right in the heart of the town, is free for the first hour. Other pay and display car parks are at Millgate and Marage.

Did you know: Thirsk’s Mary Bateman was said to be a witch who sold charms which could fend off evil spirits. She was also a thief, fraudster and murderer and was hanged in March 1809. After her death, strips of her skin were tanned into leather and sold as magic charms which could repel evil spirits.

Diary date: The annual Thirsk Picnic in the Park, to be held on July 8 at Thirsk Hall, will raise money to buy a defibrillator for Thirsk Community First Responders. The event will feature live music and a spectacular firework show. For more information and tickets, go to www.thirskpicnicinthepark.co.uk

Find out more: Thirsk Tourist Information Centre is at 93 Market Place, 01845 522755, visitthirsk.org.uk

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